Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Symbolism from the banks of the North Branch of the Zumbro River December 1, 2016



THE NORTH BRANCH of the Zumbro River ripples Hamm’s beer Land of Sky Blue Waters blue toward Pine Island Trailhead Park.




Through bare branched trees, sunlight flashes diamonds across the water’s surface.




Light and darkness. Darkness and light. Intertwined, like good and evil.




Farther down, as the river bends, I stand on the trail head bridge appreciating water so clear I can see the sandy, pebbly bottom. Sand sculpted by water. A bird’s footprint. Clarity. If only life was so simple, so clear, so still. Free of that which pollutes.




I turn my attention momentarily away from the water to lines that shadow across the bridge deck. Lines like bars run the length of the pathway. So symbolic. Bars. They hold people in. They keep people safe. Yet they don’t when the system fails.




I peer through the bars that stop me from tumbling into the shallow water far below. Falling, falling, falling.




Between the bars, I see my mini shadow and that of my husband. Shadows so near the water’s edge I fear they may fall in.




The snake of the Zumbro slithers by, curving away until I can no longer see what lies beyond the bend. Beyond today.


Note: I took these photos in October.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


21 Responses to “Symbolism from the banks of the North Branch of the Zumbro River”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Oh I love the last photograph. You know I am drawn to water just like you. As I write this this morning I am looking out over the steamy, foggy lake with a couple of geese making ripples in the water. Favorite view in the morning from my bed. Have a good day!

  2. Almost Iowa Says:

    There is something about a river that makes one yearn for a kayak.

  3. **Light and darkness. Darkness and light. Intertwined, like good and evil.**

    Absolutely gorgeous.
    Stunning photos.
    Flowing, clear water.

    Audrey, I love love love everything about this. xxx

  4. Valerie Says:

    Nice photos. We’ll have to try hiking that trail sometime.

  5. Marilyn Says:

    The visual poetry of every photo is truly stirring. I looked at this earlier and then had to ‘do’ other stuff. My mind was stirred to think of some great old hymns that mention a river: There Is a River, Like a River Glorious, Shall We Gather. So I just had to come back and let you know – I’ve been singing. Thanks.

  6. Bernadette Thomasy Says:

    This is a truly beautiful reflective photo essay. There is something about December and the shorter days that make me think about life in general. I especially like the photo of your shadow and your husband’s from the bridge, heading into the shoreline of the river. My husband and I enjoy walking a trail along the American River near Auburn, CA that always puts us in a better place mentally. Great to see you two enjoying so much outdoor time while weather permits.

    • Thank you for your kind words about this photo essay. It’s much more than simply an essay about my time along the river. Much much deeper.

      I shot these pix in October, thus certainly warmer than now. Today brought grey skies and temps in the 30s. More Minnesota-like, minus the snow.

  7. Sue Ready Says:

    Audrey-do you realize that this post’s lines just sing as a poem. Starting with…

    Through bare branched trees, sunlight flashes diamonds across the water’s surface.
    and then there is this wonderful line …

    Light and darkness. Darkness and light. Intertwined, like good and evil.

    Many of your posts are lyrical and penned by skillful hands.

    • Ah, Sue, I know you’ve told me this many times and I need to jot down dates of those specific posts and write the posts in to poems.

      I find myself feeling exuberant when I pen these lyrical posts. This post is much more than it appears on the surface. But you probably realize that.

  8. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Beautiful pictures and sentiment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.